Open All Night

I appreciate your honesty, wrapped as it was in such a bouquet of condescension.

-Six Feet Under

Weekends are going to be the death of me. I have to come back to work on Mondays just to get a BREAK.

I had planned to spend a quiet Friday night, having a nice intimate dinner with an ex-boyfriend who'd volunteered to come to town to help me celebrate a small, professional milestone.

I ended up working till after 8 - leaving me about 20 minutes to go home, shower, and change prior to our reservations.

Naturally, I ended up at my favorite restaurant (where everybody does INDEED know my name) with wet hair and no makeup, looking like a drowned rat who'd probably shoplifted a Calvin Klein cocktail dress.

He left by midnight for a long drive home (so he could take his son to some sporty kinda thing - in all honesty, I wasn't listening - the next morning).

Then my cell rang shortly before 4am.

It was my pal, Sweet T (who'd obviously had one too many illegal energy drinks) calling to inform me that he'd had kind of a "dating accident," and that he and his roommate would be on my porch in five minutes.

(In reality, I think they were motivated by the wide array of imported beer in my fridge.)

We devoted a few hours of conversation to relationships, as I contemplated the absurdity of whiling away the pre-dawn hours on my porch with (easily) two of the best looking, most available guys in town - who seemed perfectly content to sit there and help me pick out swimsuits in the new J. Crew sale catalog.

Their chief complaint about women seemed to be (and this is out of context): that we talk too much. More specifically, we talk too much about relationships. Or, as they're fond of quoting, "I got a bagfull of Shhhhhh with your name on it."

I hate to betray my gender, but I agree. I spend half my life communicating. My job is communicating. The last thing I wanna do is come home to a bunch of Yakety Yak about "where's this going?"

("What's my name?!!" is about the only question I want to answer at the end of a long hard day, and the person asking it better be expressing his [naked] query with considerable enthusiasm.)

Before long, the sun came up; the birds were singing the bums in the park were showing signs of life as they shrugged off the night and began to gather their cans.

By the time the newspaper arrived (which my guests mistook for an errant pizza guy), I kicked them out so that I could go to Farmers' Market, and they could go bowling (which was already closed, as it turns out).

I think they ended up having breakfast at the newest all-night campus pickup joint (where nobody knows your name; EVERYBODY requests separate checks; and beer goggles are handed out at the door).

I wish I'd had time to indulge, but I had to get to a birthday party for a three-year-old AND I still had to shop for her present.

I hate shopping of any kind - which is a testament to my devotion to her - but as it turns out, I especially hate shopping for kids.

It's because I remember SO WELL every crappy gift that I ever got (from the age of two to about 35).

I instantly ruled out clothes for that reason. (What three-year-old is going to light up over a cardigan? That's just stupid.) OK, that's one reason. Also, I should mention that the clerks at the kids' clothing stores wouldn't wait on me. In fact, they treated me with such vicious snobbery that I felt exactly like Julia Roberts trying to shop on Rodeo Drive in Pretty Woman when she resorted to sobbing, "I got money to spend here!!!"

So I went in search of toys. Which was a problem. Because I realize that what's entertaining to people in their 30s is not necessarily fun for a three-year-old. (So much for Winchester Road.)

I finally found something. A toy. It was lame. Hey, I tried. It was either that, or a fistful of cash, a cellphone, and a carton of smokes, which was everything else I had on me.

I was NOT in a good mood when I arrived (at least an hour late).

I collapsed dramatically on the sofa, after dispatching some moppet to mix me a drink and fetch an ashtray, and promptly informed the Mom, "NEXT TIME: register!!"

The next thing I said was, "Well, I've been toy shopping for hours because I remember how much I HATED getting clothes as a present .."

And before I could finish, I noticed the face of the nice lady next to me begin to crumple.

"Let me guess: You got her clothes didn't you?" I asked glumly, instantly suspecting my faux pas.

She nodded mutely, appearing to hold back tears.

I tried to dig myself out.

"Well, y'know when I was a kid, clothes were really ugly.."

Then all the other moms slowly gathered around to mock me, their voices dripping in scorn and derision: "don't you know about the Disney Store??"

Well yeah, I know it exists, but I thought it was just a vehicle for propaganda.

I'm sorry, but this whole Bitter Aunt Rhonda thing does not come easily to me. I do not have natural maternal instincts. I'm still adapting.

One little boy kept tugging at my skirt, asking me if he could, I don't know, probably set off high explosives under the slide or something. I was only half listening because I was busy cutting cake - trying to make sure every child got the eyeball they wanted (don't even ask). I finally turned around and hissed, "beat it kid; ask a grownup." At which point, one of the dads reminded me, "you're 35 years old for Chrissake."

Yes, I am... But as long as I don't have a baby, I get to be the baby...

It's not a bad system.